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The iPad at Work

Is the iPad really ready for business?

OPINION

07 CONTENTS

From the Editor’s Desk

Sandy Bridge has arrived: Intel stays but Nvidia is out 46 Ignore the man in front of the curtain

March 2011

MAC USER

08

Apple revamps MacBook pro line, adds Thunderbolt port

11 What you need to know about Thunderbolt

CLASSIC APPLE

14

Apple iBook G4 iOS CENTRAL

16

Apple reveals iPad 2

19 Review: OtterBox Commuter and Defender for iPhone 4 18 Apple Releases iOS 4.3 Beta for developers

WORKING MAC

28

Protect the MacBook Air in style 29 Printer reviews

PLAY LIST

30

Audiobooks: from CD to iPod 32 Reviews 33 Hot stuff

DIGITAL PHOTO

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Sony Alpha SLT-A55

37 Best point-and-shoot for video

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Roll your own iPhone skins

39 Build greeting cars with photo blocks 39 Leave the Ken Burns effect on the cutting room floor 40 Handwriting: a font of your own

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FROM THE EDITORS DESK

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Sandy Bridge has arrived: Intel stays but Nvidia is out

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Published by 1013 Centre Road, New Castle County, Wilmington, Delaware, USA Head Office PO Box 13700 Dubai, UAE Tel: +971 (0) 4 440 9100 Fax: +971 (0) 4 447 2409 Printed by Printwell Printing Press LLC © Copyright 2011 CPI All rights reserved While the publisher have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of all information in this magazine, they will not be held responsible for any errors therein.

I write this on a Sandy Bridge MacBook Pro 13-inch. Actually, I’ve just had it for a couple of days but I’m mightily impressed. It came too late to me to make it into this issue but look for a thorough review in our next issue. It’s a company-issued computer so I had little choice in terms of configuration etc. but the Core i5 entry-level model is plenty fast. With 4GB RAM and 320GB hard drive this is one very mobile and effective workstation. One wish I had right off the bat was that Cupertino really should have increased the resolution of the screen but it’s something I can live with. I’ve yet to see if I can get to the 7 hours of battery life that Apple claims (and frankly, I doubt I will ever see 7 hours) but in coming weeks I’ll certainly put this Mac through its paces. So Apple decided to stick with Intel’s processors, which makes perfect sense. I’m sure that in the engineering labs in Cupertino there are Macs humming along on AMD

processors but for now, Intel is it for processors in Apple Macs. On the graphics side there’s a change of guards though, with Nvidia being kicked out and AMD invited in. The 13-inch MacBook Pro survives on the processor (integrated) graphics in Intel’s Sandy Bridge chips and it seems to do a very good job, including some gaming. For sure, it’s better than any integrated graphics that I’ve experienced before, but again, more on that in next issue. The 15- and 17-inch models feature both the processor Intel HD Graphics 3000 as well as AMD Radeon HD 6490M discrete graphics with 256MB or 1GB GDDR5 video memory. At least at 1GB memory that should provide MacBook Pro users with some serious graphics prowess, more than enough even for some serious gaming. Apple didn’t touch the physical design at all and frankly, why would they have to? The MacBook Pro line of computers was already the best-designed line of portable computers that you

can find anywhere. Almost always when I pick up a PC notebook or netbook, in my mind I refer to an Apple all-aluminium notebook and think what a difference. Some manufacturers slap a thin aluminium sheet on the display or around the keyboard but none go as far as Apple and use the material throughout. And it makes a huge difference in appearance and feeling of quality. My guess is that we’ll see another bump or two in specifications before the next generation of all-redesigned MacBook Pros rolls around in a year or so. For now, Apple’s premium portable computers are faster than ever before and that’s something to be very happy about. I know I am so far very happy with my 13-inch model and I hope to be able to tell you all about it next month.

Magnus Nystedt Group Editor

February 2011 | www.macworldme.net | 7


MACUSER

News and Analysis about Macs, OS X, and Apple

Apple revamps MacBook Pro line, adds Thunderbolt port By Dan Moren

8 | www.macworldme.net | February 2011


Apple released the latest update to its MacBook Pro portable computer line, more than 10 months after the laptops’ last revision. The new versions feature a new series of Intel processors, updated graphics cards, and a new connectivity standard dubbed Thunderbolt. The new MacBook Pros feature Intel’s latest dual-core and quadcore Intel Core processors from the Core i5 and Core i7 lines, which Apple says will make the entire line of portables up to twice as fast at their predecessors when performing CPU-intensive activities. The low-end 13-inch model has a 2.3GHz Core i5

processor and its big brother uses a 2.7GHz Core i7 that’s the fastest dual-core processor Intel makes. Meanwhile, the 15-inch and 17-inch models are sporting an all quad-core line up, with Core i7 processors that run at up to 2.3 GHz. Intel refers to the processors used in the new MacBook Pros as its “second-generation of Core i processors”; during development, they were codenamed “Sandy Bridge.” Earlier this year, Intel discovered problems in the chipset of Sandy Bridge processors that were shipping, but Apple vice president of worldwide Mac hardware

marketing David Moody told Macworld that the company was using the latest updated versions, which corrected the flaw. Graphics also got a revamp in this version, with the 13inch models sporting an integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 chip that’s part of the Core architecture; the 15-inch and 17-inch versions featuring both the Intel integrated chip and a discrete AMD Radeon HD processor with up to 1GB of memory. As with previous models, the system will automatically switch to the higher-power chip when using more graphics-intensive February 2011 | www.macworldme.net | 9


MAC USER

applications. Apple is among the first vendors to be using the AMD Radeon HD 6750M, which it says can deliver up to three times better performance than previous technology. But the newest feature on the MacBook Pros is a new connectivity technology called Thunderbolt. Co-developed with Intel, Thunderbolt has two bi-directional channels that can transfer data at up to 10Gbps each, a speed that’s 12 times faster than the theoretical maximum of FireWire 800. The technology is based on the PCI Express protocol that most Macs use for internal I/O, but via adapters it can support pretty much any other type of connectivity protocol, including FireWire, USB, and Gigabit Ethernet. It also allows users to daisy chain up to six devices together. “It’s fast, it’s simple, and it’s flexible,” said Apple’s Moody. On the new MacBook Pros, Thunderbolt uses the same plug that current Macs use to connect to DisplayPort-compatible displays; it can still connect to those devices, and Apple’s adapters for hooking up to 10 | www.macworldme.net | February 2011

HDMI, DVI, and VGA video will continue to work. Apple expects Thunderbolt to be adopted widely as a new standard for input and output. While Apple said it had nothing to announce on Thursday in terms of Thunderbolt adapters for existing connectivity protocols, the company pointed out that the technology is not an Apple-exclusive and that via Intel, Thunderbolt would be available to third-party device and cable makers. In addition, the MacBook Pros now feature built-in FaceTime HD cameras, which are capable of 720p widescreen high-definition video. At 1280 by 720, the cameras have three times the resolution of previous cameras and allow for better video calls using Apple’s FaceTime software, which is included on all new Macs (it’s available to existing Mac owners for 99 cents on the Mac App Store). The new models feature the same aluminum unibody enclosures as the older line, with the glass Multi-Touch trackpad, LED-backlit displays, and backlit

full-size keyboard. And the SD card slot has been upgraded to accept faster, high-capacity SDXC cards. Apple also told Macworld that the battery testing procedure on the new MacBook Pros was the same that it used when introducing the revamped MacBook Air last fall. It calls the test “more rigorous” and says that even using that test, the new MacBook Pros achieved 7-hour battery life across the line. The 13-inch model starts at $1,199 for a 2.3GHz with 320GB hard drive and $1,499 for a 2.7GHz with 500GB hard drive. For the 15-inch model, there are two configurations: one with a 2.0GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7, AMD Radeon HD 6490M, and 500GB hard drive starting at $1,799, and one with a 2.2GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7, AMD Radeon HD 6750M and 750GB hard drive starting at $2,199. The top of the line 17-inch MacBook Pro comes with a 2.2GHz QuadCore Intel Core i7, AMD Radeon HD 6750M, and 750GB hard drive—it’s priced at $2,499.


MAC USER

What you need to know about Thunderbolt We answer the biggest questions about Apple’s latest connection technology BY DAN FRAKES, DAN MORE

The arrival of Apple’s latest MacBook Pro models brings with it a brand-new connection technology called Thunderbolt, which raises lots of questions about what, exactly, Thunderbolt is and why Apple has chosen to make it a flagship feature of the company’s newest notebooks. Here’s what you need to know about the industry’s latest connection standard.

What is Thunderbolt? Thunderbolt (previously called Light Peak) is a new peripheral-connection technology, developed by Intel with collaboration from Apple, that combines data, video, audio, and power in a single connection. Thunderbolt allows for high-speed connection of peripherals such as hard drives, RAID arrays, video-capture solutions, and network interfaces, and it can transmit high-definition video using the DisplayPort protocol.

Is Thunderbolt any different from Light Peak? Light Peak was simply Intel’s

codename for Thunderbolt while the technology was under development—they’re names for the exact same technology.

So how does this involve PCI Express? PCI Express is the high-speed architecture that’s used to connect many of the components in your Mac, such as the processor, graphics card, and hard drive. You can think of PCI Express as an expressway that lets data move quickly and efficiently between these “locations.” Because Thunderbolt is based on PCI Express, it offers a direct connection to the PCI Express bus, which is part of the reason it can offer such impressive performance.

How fast is it really? In theory, it’s blazing fast. A Thunderbolt channel can provide up to 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps) of data throughput—and each Thunderbolt port includes two channels. Thunderbolt is also bi-directional, meaning it can transmit and receive data at the same time. Even

with estimated real-world performance of around 8Gbps, Thunderbolt is many times faster than FireWire 800 and USB 3.0. It’s also significantly faster than the eSATA connections available on many Windows PCs. Of course, just as with previous high-speed interfaces, performance of each connected device will often be much lower thanks to the limitations of the device itself.

What are Thunderbolt’s advantages over current connections—FireWire, USB, eSATA, and the like? The biggest advantage is obviously the aforementioned performance. But another big selling point is that, since Thunderbolt supports data, video, audio, and power, you can use a single Thunderbolt port—and thus a single cable—to connect many of your peripherals. Or at least you’ll be able to once you’ve got enough Thunderbolt devices and adapters.

So Thunderbolt is kind of like Apple’s old Apple Display February 2011 | www.macworldme.net | 11


MAC USER

Connector technology? Not really, although the idea is similar to that of the Apple Display Connector (ADC). While Thunderbolt does carry video, audio, data, and power—thus reducing the number of cables sticking out of your computer—it doesn’t provide enough power to run a large display.

What type of physical connection does Thunderbolt use? Conveniently enough, Thunderbolt uses a connector that fits the Mini DisplayPort port on all recent Macs. In fact, the newest MacBook models include only a Thunderbolt port— there’s no separate Mini DisplayPort port.

But how do I connect my display if there’s no Mini DisplayPort jack? Because Thunderbolt handles both data and DisplayPort video, you connect your Mini DisplayPort-enabled display—or another display using a Mini DisplayPort adapter—to the Thunderbolt port, or you daisy-chain it to other Thunderbolt devices, as noted below.

How do Thunderbolt’s video and audio capabilities compare to DisplayPort’s? Remember, every Thunderbolt port includes both DisplayPort and PCI Express connections. Which means a Thunderbolt port can handle the same types of video and audio—displays with greater than 1080p resolution and up to eight channels of audio—as a DisplayPort port. When it comes to video, the main limitation is your graphics card.

Is Thunderbolt backwardcompatible with USB and FireWire?

12 | www.macworldme.net | February 2011

Third-party vendors will sell adapters, available sometime this spring, that let you connect USB, FireWire 400, and FireWire 800 devices to Thunderbolt ports. Thunderbolt won’t make these legacy devices any faster, however—they’ll still be limited to the performance of their built-in components. For example, a FireWire 800 device still won’t be able to transfer data faster than 800 Mbps.

multiple devices of varying levels of performance without affecting the channel itself. Of course, those devices still share the total throughput of the Thunderbolt channel, which could limit the performance of a particular device if multiple devices are transferring lots of data at the same time, but the performance of the Thunderbolt channel itself shouldn’t be affected.

What about other types of connections?

Can you boot a Mac from a Thunderbolt drive?

As noted above, Thunderbolt can carry data, video, audio, network data, and power, so we also expect to see adapters providing audio and Ethernet connections. Perhaps we’ll even see cables that grab power from the Thunderbolt port—this could be useful, for example, for getting some

We suspect so, but we haven’t yet confirmed this capability. We’ll update this answer when we know more. We’re also looking into whether you can boot your Mac from a USB or FireWire drive connected to a Thunderbolt port using an adapter.

extra juice for an external USB or FireWire peripheral.

Does Thunderbolt support Target Disk Mode and Migration Assistant?

Can I connect multiple devices to a single Thunderbolt port? You can connect up to six devices to each Thunderbolt port by daisychaining them—connecting the first to the Thunderbolt port, connecting the second to the first, and so on. Of course, this requires that each device in the chain have two Thunderbolt ports (or two other types of data ports along with Thunderbolt adapters)— one to connect to the device in front of it and one to provide a connection for the device after it.

Does connecting multiple devices affect performance, as it can with USB 2.0? Unlike with USB 2.0, where connecting a non-Hi-Speed device or a USB 1.0 device can affect the performance of the entire USB bus, Thunderbolt is designed to handle

On the new MacBook Pro models, you can use Target Disk Mode over a computer-to-computer Thunderbolt connection. (We assume this will be the case with future Thunderboltequipped Macs, as well.) However, Mac OS X’s Migration Assistant software doesn’t currently support Thunderbolt connections.

Will all Macs get Thunderbolt? Apple doesn’t comment on future products, but it’s telling that the company has made Thunderbolt a standard feature across the entire MacBook Pro line—even the entry-level model. The company has said it expects wide adoption of Thunderbolt, and for that to happen, its spread across the Mac line seems like a given. As Apple updates the company’s other computer lines over the coming months, we expect to see Thunderbolt added


MAC USER

to every Mac model. A more interesting question, though, is…

Will Thunderbolt eventually replace FireWire and USB on Macs? Perhaps, although eventually could be a very long time. Thunderbolt is brand new, and as such it will be a while before it becomes anywhere near as commonplace as USB and FireWire. It’s expected to be widely adopted by vendors and peripheral makers over the next few years, but until most popular peripherals are available with Thunderbolt connections, we don’t expect these legacy connections to disappear entirely from the Mac lines. That said, we all remember the original iMac, when Apple nixed legacy serial and ADB connectors in favor of USB—long before USB peripherals

were commonplace and inexpensive—and we can imagine the idea of a single port and connector appealing to Apple and Steve Jobs. Just look at the dock-connector port that adorns the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Speaking of which…

the dock-connector port is missing. We suspect it’s far more likely that Apple will eventually sell an optional Thunderbolt-to-dock-connector cable for charging and syncing.

Will iOS devices get Thunderbolt?

Thunderbolt just became official, and while a number of vendors have announced Thunderbolt-based peripherals, none are yet available. For example, Promise has announced the Pegasus Thunderbolt Technology DAS, a 4- or 6-bay external RAID array, and LaCie has announced a Thunderbolt version of the company’s Little Big Disk portable drive that features dual hard drives or SSDs (solid-state drives). These and other Thunderbolt peripherals are expected to be available beginning this spring.

As noted above, Thunderbolt relies on PCI Express, the architecture that underpins Macs and most PCs. But iOS devices don’t use a PCI Express architecture, which would presumably make it difficult to simply stick a Thunderbolt port on an iPhone. Plus the dock-connector port on iOS devices provides quite a bit of additional functionality—it’s got 30 connection pins for a reason, after all. Finally, it’s not clear what benefits Thunderbolt would provide that

Are there any Thunderbolt peripherals available yet?

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February 2011 | www.macworldme.net | 13


AppleClassic One piece of Apple gear from history

iBook G4

T

he iBook G3 from 2001 had a 500 MHz PowerPC G3 processor with 256k level 2 cache, 64 MB or 128 MB of RAM, 10.0 GB hard drive, CD optical drive, ATI Rage Mobility 128 graphics and optional AirPort 802.11b. All this was packed into a small white case topped off by a 12.1inch display showing 1024x768 pixels. Compared to the iBook prior to this model it was quite different in design as well as specifications. Price in the US started at $1,299.

14 | www.macworldme.net | February 2011


Set your ideas free.


iOScentral

The Latest on the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and App Store

Apple reveals iPad 2 By Roman Loyola

At a special event in San Francisco, Apple unveiled the iPad 2, the follow-up to the original iPad it released last April. The iPad 2 features an all-new design along with new features including built-in cameras and a new gyroscope. At the heart of the iPad 2 is a 1GHz dual-core Apple A5 processor, which should provide a boost over the 1GHz single-core Apple A4 in the first iPad. Apple says the A5 is two times faster than the previous processor, while graphics performance is nine times faster—welcome news for everything from games

to video-editing apps like the soon-to-be-released iPad-optimised version of iMovie. “The graphics on this thing are wonderful,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who made a surprise appearance at the Wednesday event despite being on medical leave. The A5 also has a similar low-power consumption rating as the A4. Like the original iPad, the new model promises 10 hours of battery life. The iPad 2 features two built-in cameras, for use with FaceTime video chat

16 | www.macworldme.net | February 2011

and other apps. FaceTime can be used between two iPad 2s, between the iPad 2 and an iPhone or iPod touch, or between an iPad 2 and a Mac using FaceTime for Mac. As with FaceTime on other iOS devices, you’ll be able to use the front-facing camera to capture your own image; you can switch to the rear-facing camera during conversations to show chat participants what you’re looking at without having to flip around your iPad.

Apple also announced a new Photo Booth app for the iPad. The app uses the front-facing camera to

snap your image, which you can then alter with eight included effects. The Photo Booth app previews all effects on one-screen in real-time. The iPad 2’s front camera is capable of recording VGA-resolution (640-by-480) video at 30 frames per second with audio. The front camera can also take still photos at 640-by-480. The back camera can record HD video at 720p at 30 frames per second with audio. When in still camera mode, the back camera has a 5X digital zoom.


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The iPad 2 features a 9.7-inch LCD screen with a 1024-by-768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch, like the original iPad. Overall, the iPad 2 is thinner and lighter than its predecessor, weighing 1.3 pounds and measuring 0.35 inches thick. The original iPad was 1.5 pounds (1.6 pounds for the 3G iPad) and 0.5 inches thick. The iPad 2 is actually thinner than the iPhone 4, which is 0.37 inches thick. Other new features include a gyroscope, which has previously been included in the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch. Apple says the gyroscope feature works with the iPad 2’s built-in accelerometer and compass to sense the direction the iPad is headed and how it’s moving. That should affect gaming and mapping apps, giving both more of a 360-degree feel. The iPad 2 supports 1080p video out using an Apple VGA Adapter or the

newly announced Apple Digital AV Adapter. Users will also be able to choose between a black or white iPad, which will both ship at the same time. That stands in stark contrast to the iPhone 4, which was also supposed to be available in both black and white options; however, the white iPhone 4 has been continually delayed, with model scheduled to arrive sometime this spring. Apple offers six models of the iPad 2, with pricing identical to the original iPad’s. There are three Wi-Fi only models: a $499 version with 16GB of flash storage; a $599 model with 32GB of flash storage; and a $699 model with 64GB of flash storage. Apple will offer three 3G-equipped models: a $629 version with 16GB of flash storage; a $729 model with 323GB of flash storage; and a $829 model with 64GB of flash storage. Apple says the iPad 2 will be available on March

18 | www.macworldme.net | February 2011

11 through the online and retail Apple Stores. You can’t place an order for the new tablet until March 11, according to Apple’s online store. As of this writing, the original 16GB Wi-Fi iPad was available through Apple’s clearance section for $399. The iPad 2 specifications call for iTunes 10.2, which Apple released Wednesday afternoon. iPad 2 also requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later (or Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP Home or Professional with Service Pack 3 if you’re using that other platform.) In a little less than a year, the iPad has become a big part of Apple’s business. Jobs said during Wednesday’s presentation that Apple sold nearly 15 million iPads during a nine-month period in 2010. According to Apple, the iPad has more than a 90 percent share of the tablet market. “While others have been scrambling to copy the first generation iPad,

we’re launching iPad 2, which moves the bar far ahead of the competition and will likely cause them to go back to the drawing boards yet again,” said Jobs in a press release. At the event, Jobs acknowledge the role of the retail Apple Stores as a key to the success of the iPad. The stores’ built-in ability to support the iPad was key to educating customers and to handle customer questions. “Without these stores, I don’t think we would have been successful either,” Jobs said. “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough,” said Jobs at the end of the iPad 2 event. “That it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing.”


IOS CENTRAL

Review: Otterbox Commuter and Defender for iPhone 4 BY MAMDOH NASS

Defender

O

tterBox is a brand that’s known for one thing and that’s protection. Looking at OtterBox’s Commuter and Defender Series for the iPhone 4, you know what that means. These are not the sleekest of covers for the iPhone, nor the most elegant, but once you see them you get a sudden urge to hurl the phone across the room.

Defender Series The Defender Series has always been OtterBox’s flagship product. It adds considerable bulk to the iPhone, but you can easily see why. The cover consists of 3 parts: 2 plastic parts (front and back) that clip onto each other to engulf the device, and a rubber cover that pulls it all together. The front panel piece also has a built in screen protector which is a boon if you hate sticking one on your screen, or if your worried about bubbles on your screen. I have to admit it feels much better than I was expecting, but it isn’t as smooth as the original screen and sometimes you could feel the gap between the protector and the screen, though that’s hardly noticeable. The total product is part plastic and part rubber, and each of these is a different color. The rubber piece

offers covers for the mute switch, headphones socket, and the dock connector. It also covers power, home, and volume buttons completely. I’m not sure what the point is for all that protection, since there are still exposed areas, which prevent the case from being waterproof, not that OtterBox claims so. The attention to detail is obvious, and it will surly protect the device from pretty much anything. The screen is recessed about 3mm in, but that doesn’t get in the way of reaching the screen’s edges, something most covers neglect. There is no protection to the screen, but the only damage I can see that it fails to protect from is a sharp object falling directly on to the screen. In most cases the screen is given enough room to be safe should the phone fall face down. All together the case is huge. I can’t stress that enough. It is probably the biggest cover you can find for the iPhone. A belt buckle is part of the package, and it seems to be just as sturdy as the cover, though it doesn’t do it any favors in the size department. However, it does double as a full-fledged screen protection if the phone is in the clip, protecting from the fall I just described. Overall, it lives up to its name. It really does protect the iPhone from pretty much everything except a direct blow to the screen by a sharp object, and even that is when it isn’t in its holster. I wouldn’t think twice about taking it on a hiking trip.

This cover consists of 2 parts, a rubber cover and a plastic protector that keeps it all together, this also gives is a two-color scheme, the colored plastic an the black rubber. It comes with a protective sheet that you can stick on to the screen to give another level of protection. Volume control and the power button are all covered, but unlike the Defender, the mute switch and the home button aren’t. There are also covers to protect the audio jack and dock connector, the former being a hassle to open in close because of its design.

Conclusion Both covers are very rugged and well designed. But the average person may want something a bit more stylish, even if it costs them a bit of protection. These are the equivalent of a pair of steel-toed boots, and are just as stylish. For some, however, function prevails over fashion, and they need to protect their phones no matter what, especially if they live an active lifestyle. After all, an iPhone 4 is a considerable investment and you should do what you can to take care of that investment.

Commuter Series This is the smaller of the two cases; it’s still a bit bulky compared to other cases, but significantly smaller than the Defender. Of course the smaller size comes at a cost, and in this case it doesn’t offer as much protection as the Defender, but it’s probably still more than what the average user would require.

Commuter

February 2011 | www.macworldme.net | 19


The iPad at

WORK

Is the iPad really ready for business? When the iPad first appeared, many people immediately decided that it was good for entertainment, but not for real work. Given its lack of a physical keyboard and of business-strength software, the tablet was obviously more toy than tool. So why do we regularly see iPads in meeting rooms, on planes, and in shoulder bags that once carried laptops? The question doesn’t seem to be whether or not the iPad is ready for business; the question is, how ready is it? What can the iPad do for work? What can’t it do? To get some answers, we asked Macworld editorial director Jason Snell to compare his iPad and his MacBook Air as work tools. We asked Joe Kissell to look at ways to work with Microsoft Office documents and PDFs on an iPad. And we asked Kirk McElhearn to survey iPad apps that let you edit and sync plain-text notes.

20 | www.macworldme.net | December 2010


FEATURE

LIGHTER THAN AIR

The MacBook Air versus the iPad as a work machine

When introducing the new MacBook Air in October 2010, Steve Jobs asked, “What would happen if a MacBook and an iPad hooked up?” It’s one of the stranger things Jobs has ever said on stage, but it got the point across. But how comparable are they, really? More specifically, which one is the better device for getting work done, the 11-inch MacBook Air or the iPad? The answer depends on how you define work and what compromises you’re willing to make. Hard Facts Sporting the same aluminum casing and the famous Apple logo, the 11-inch Air and the iPad are definitely cousins. The Air is about seven-tenths of a pound lighter than the iPad. In two dimensions (thickness and depth), it’s of comparable size. If you lay the iPad atop the MacBook Air, you’ll see that the Air is a little more than two inches wider than the iPad. But that comparison skips over one important point: the iPad is always

open, ready for use at the push of a button. The MacBook Air works only when you open its clamshell and put it on a surface where you can type, use the trackpad, and see its screen. The iPad, by contrast, can be used in a lot of places where a traditional laptop really can’t. But that very disadvantage is also the Air’s biggest physical advantage over the iPad: It needs more room because it’s got a physical keyboard. The iPad has that virtual on-screen keyboard, but if you want to use a wired or wireless keyboard, it won’t form an integrated unit that will rest on your lap. (A few iPad cases, such as the ZaggMate [zagg.com] and the ClamCase [clamcase.com] try to solve that problem.)

For the past couple of months, I’ve alternated between carrying an iPad and a MacBook Air on my commute. I tend to choose one or the other based on whether or not I’m planning on typing a lot. Back in November, for example, as part of National Novel Writing Month, I wrote 2000 words a day, every day; to maintain that pace, I needed to work on the bus to and from work. I used the MacBook Air the entire month. That’s not to say I can’t write on the iPad, but it’s much slower than on the MacBook, and there’s absolutely no way to use an iPad plus keyboard comfortably on the bus. I suspect that for many people, the decisive factor in choosing the MacBook or iPad for work will be the keyboard. If you need to do a lot of typing in spaces that don’t give you room to prop up your iPad and break out your wireless keyboard, the iPad simply isn’t up to the job. Software Separation The other big difference between the two devices is the software they run. Mac OS X is a mature computer operating system. It requires a mouse and a keyboard. Software abounds, from Microsoft Office to the smallest utility; none need be approved by Apple to be used on a Mac. The file system is also exposed, so you can see and manipulate all the files on your MacBook Air. Apple’s iOS, by comparison, is not yet four years old. Though it supports external keyboards, it’s primarily based on touch input. Plenty of apps have been created for it, but most are still a bit bare-bones. For example, while there are lots of apps out there for editing plain text, precious few let you edit styled text. You can’t manipulate files directly as you can on the Mac; different apps have different ways of opening, saving, and sharing files, which can be awkward. Clearly this is an operating system with some growing to do.

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FEATURE

FOR MANY PEOPLE, THE DECISIVE FACTOR IN CHOOSING BETWEEN THE MACBOOK AND THE iPAD FOR WORK WILL BE THE KEYBOARD.

All that said, I’ve found that there are some good iPad apps for doing much of my work. The Mail and Safari applications that come with the iPad are both excellent. In general, Apple’s iWork suite does a good job of opening, editing, and saving out files in Microsoft Office-compatible formats, though file management and version control is still a mess. Keynote, in particular, is excellent—and you can even use it to give presentations on external monitors via a video adapter.

The addition of multitasking support in iOS 4.2 makes the iPad a better work machine. Quickly switching among multiple apps provides a huge productivity boost: I can read something in an e-mail, look it up on the Web, and then paste the results into a chat window. The fact that one app at a time is visible on the iPad can also be a good thing: While I can have a text editor, IM app, and Twitter client all on screen and vying for my attention on my MacBook, on the iPad I have to focus solely on the app that I’m using—a boon for the easily distracted. What Makes Sense When The iPad is obviously a fantastic consumption device: I’ve read books, watched movies and baseball games, read RSS feeds, and played untold numbers of games on mine. And in terms of getting work done, the iPad has replaced both my iPhone and my MacBook Air as the device I check when I’m at home and need to check what’s going on at the office. I take it to meetings as a note-taker and e-mail checker. I love its size and the fact that

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using it feels more casual than opening up a laptop. For more serious work, I bring along an Apple Wireless Keyboard and a case that lets me set the iPad on a flat surface such as a desk or table. I once wrote a 2,000-word Macworld article at my in-laws’ kitchen table using that setup, and it worked just fine. I can connect to our VPN with it, giving me access to our servers. Because I have the 3G iPad, I can get online with a 3G cellular data network without a separate device—something no Mac can do. And the iPad’s battery lasts roughly twice as long as the MacBook’s. The iPad’s main disadvantage is that, while you can do almost anything with it, sometimes that takes a lot more work than doing the same thing on a MacBook Air. But if your work doesn’t require lots of keyboarding or apps that aren’t available on the iPad (Adobe’s Creative Suite, say), the iPad starts to make a lot of sense. With an 11-inch MacBook Air at my disposal, I no longer feel that taking a laptop on a business trip is such a hardship. In fact, the 11-inch MacBook air is smaller and lighter than the iPad and Apple Wireless Keyboard combination. Just as importantly, the MacBook Air is a Mac. It can run Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Coda, BBEdit, Firefox, Parallels and VMWare—you name it. If your work requires one of these real Mac apps, or if you do technical or

creative work that requires lots of horsepower, only a Mac will do. And if your job requires Web- or Flash-based apps, again the choice is clear. And if you spends the bulk of your day tapping furiously on a keyboard, the MacBook Air has the advantage. Either or Both? The truth is, however, that this isn’t an either-or question: If you can afford it, you can—like me—have both an iPad and a Mac. For that matter, you can also have a smartphone. They all overlap in functionality—but each also does something the others can’t. There’s less overlap between an iPad and, say, a MacBook Pro than there is between the tablet and a MacBook Air. Likewise, if you’ve got an iPhone, you’ve essentially got an iPad mini in your pocket all the time, and so you may not need that iPad. You might be better off pairing that phone with an Air. But if you have to choose between the iPad and MacBook Air, it comes down to where you’re willing to compromise. The iPad wins on size and convenience; I’d rather read PDFs, e-books, Websites, and RSS feeds on the iPad than on the MacBook Air. And I’d rather use an iPad in a briefing room to show off documents to colleagues or clients. And if all I need on a business trip is Web and e-mail, the iPad will be enough. But for anything more than that, I still need my MacBook Air.


FEATURE

GETTING THINGS DONE

The best ways to edit Office documents and PDFs on the iPad

You still can’t do everything on an iPad that you can on a Mac. Suppose you create a work document—a word processing file, spreadsheet, presentation, or PDF, for example—on your Mac, and want to edit or annotate it on your iPad and then return it to your Mac as intact as possible. It’s doable, but it isn’t necessarily easy. Office Documents It’s taken for granted that pretty much anyone with a Mac (or Windows PC) can open Microsoft Office documents. (For the purposes of this article, Microsoft Office documents means those conforming to the older, and more widely used, Office formats: .doc, .xls, and .ppt, rather than the more recent XML-based .docx, .xlsx, and .pptx formats.) Even if you don’t have a copy of Office itself, you can use any of the many inexpensive or free third-party applications that open

Office documents and preserve most (if not all) of their formatting. The situation is completely different on an iPad. For starters, there’s no Microsoft Office for iOS. Although numerous apps can read and display Office documents, only a few (including Apple’s iWork apps) let you edit them. Even then, because no iOS app currently supports all—or even most—of the features in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, you may not be able to make all the changes you’d like with an iPad. Even worse, you may lose

formatting and other elements (such as tables and graphics) from a document in the course of roundtripping it between your Mac and your iPad. Most apps that support Office files must import them and then save them in a proprietary format; that process will strip out whatever document features the app doesn’t support. When you return an edited document to your Mac, you must generally export it back to Office format; that may mangle the document even more. As a result, the document you get back may look nothing like the one you started with. Just moving those documents to and from the tablet can be a challenge, too. Because iOS has no shared file-storage system, each app has its own mechanism for transferring files. Most document-oriented apps transfer files using iTunes: With the iPad connected to your Mac, you select the tablet in the iTunes sidebar, click on the Apps tab, scroll down to the File Sharing section, and select an app. You then drag files from the Finder into the Documents list to copy them to your iPad, or drag them out to copy them back to your Mac. (Note that this process copies the files—it doesn’t move them.) However, iTunes transfers aren’t always convenient; among other things, you need to connect your iPad to your Mac via USB. Some apps transfer files via cloud-based services such as Dropbox or MobileMe. You can sync a file from your Mac to the cloud, then from the cloud to your iPad. That system is convenient because it’s wireless, but it does require an account with one of those services. Other apps offer an Open In command, which lets you move a document to your iPad in one app, then open it in another. The most notable of these is Mail. That means you can e-mail yourself the file as an attachment, open the message on your iPad, tap and hold the attachment name, tap Open In, and choose an editing app. After editing it,

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FEATURE you can then use the editing app’s built-in Mail To command to send the document back to your Mac. But again, not every app offers such a feature. Given all that, what’s the best, most convenient way to transfer Office documents to your iPad, edit them there, and then transfer them back to your Mac? The answers depend on the kind of document you’re working with. Word (.doc)  Only a few iPad apps can edit Word documents; even fewer can do a reasonably good job of it, including retaining all the character and paragraph formatting of the original. Apple’s own Pages ($10) is a natural choice: It’s the most full-featured word processor for the iPad, it supports graphics and tables, and it can both import and export documents in Word format. However, importing a Word document into Pages permanently strips out many elements, including tracked changes, comments, footnotes and endnotes, and bookmarks. Doc2 HD, a $6 word processor from byte2, lets you add and edit character font, size, style, and color; paragraph alignment and indentation; bulleted and numbered lists; tables; and graphics. Unfortunately, saving edited documents strips out quite a bit of Word formatting (including styles and bookmarks) and wrecks special characters. (The same vendor’s $8 Office2 HD suite does

the same and adds spreadsheet editing.) DataViz’s Documents To Go ($10) and Documents To Go Premium ($17) let you edit Word files, and both provide fair formatting controls. Although you can’t add elements such as graphics or tables, you can see them in imported documents. Crucially, Documents To Go preserves all of the file’s original formatting and contents during the import and export process, so even elements that can’t be displayed (such as footnotes and tracked changes) appear correctly when the document returns to your Mac. Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite ($15), from Quickoffice, also preserves the formatting and other elements of the original file when you edit and export it. Unfortunately, its editing capabilities are even more limited than Documents To Go’s—only basic character styles (bold, italic, and underline), font, size, text and highlight color, and paragraph attributes such as alignment and bulleted lists are supported. If you need to edit Word files on your iPad, I think your best choice is between Pages, which offers extensive editing capabilities but strips out elements from the original, and an app like Documents To Go or Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite, which preserves the formatting and contents of the original but offers limited editing capabilities.

TABLES SAVED Documents To Go can’t create tables, but it displays them, lets you edit their contents, and preserves them when you save the document.

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GOOGLE DOCS ON AN iPAD

Google recently made it possible to edit Google Docs files on an iPad, using Safari. Because you can upload Microsoft Office documents to a Google Docs account, that means you could theoretically edit Office docs on your iPad by using Google as an intermediary. But while that process does indeed work, it has some serious limitations. For one thing, you have to convert uploaded documents to Google’s formats before you can edit them. And, as is usually the case with file imports, that conversion strips out formatting and other features. For another, when you visit your Google Docs account on an iPad, Google by default displays the mobile version of the site; the editing tools in that mobile version are extremely limited.


FEATURE FORMATS LOST While Docs2 and Office2 let you edit tables and graphics in Word documents, both strip out some other key pieces of formatting.

spreadsheet features, and preserve many elements, including charts. If it’s essential to maintain all formatting and data, Numbers, Sheet2 HD, and Office2 HD are not good choices; Documents To Go or Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite are your best bets. Between those two, your choice depends on the interface or feature-set you In my experience, preserving document fidelity is more important than having the formatting tools; I’m more likely to be editing for content on an iPad than adding fancy features. Since Documents To Go has more formatting tools than Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite, that’s the app I’d choose. Excel (.xls) The story for Excel files is similar to that for Word files, except that your choices aren’t quite so painful. Because it can import and export .xls files, Numbers ($10) will certainly do the trick. As with Pages, though, importing removes or alters spreadsheet elements you may want to preserve: merged cells are split, while comments, headers, footers, and 3D charts disappear. Sheet2 HD, the spreadsheet app from byte2, will edit Office spreadsheets (as will the spreadsheet module in Office2). Most spreadsheet features are preserved when you save a worksheet, but not all; for example, charts disappear altogether. Documents to Go, Documents To Go Premium, and Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite also support editing Excel files, offer a reasonable set of

prefer. PowerPoint (.ppt) When it comes to editing PowerPoint documents on an iPad, your options are extremely limited. Although both Office2 HD and Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite can display PowerPoint files, neither can edit them. For all practical purposes, your options are either Apple’s $10 Keynote or Documents To Go Premium Edition (the standard edition doesn’t support PowerPoint files). You won’t be surprised to learn that Keynote removes formatting and data from PowerPoint documents upon import (again, there’s a full list at support.apple.com/kb/HT4066), or that Documents To Go Premium preserves all the formatting. However, Keynote on the iPad is vastly more capable at creating, editing, and showing presentations. So if you need to make only minor edits, Documents To Go may be fine. But if you intend to do any significant work, or to use your iPad to run a presentation (by connecting ito to a display via the VGA adapter), Keynote makes more sense.

PDFs PDF display is built into iOS, so many apps can do it. But only a few can handle annotations—notes, highlighting, and other elements that comment on the underlying text. I tried half a dozen iPad apps that claimed to be able to annotate PDFs in one way or another. Half of the annotation apps had fatal flaws. LifeForms and PDF Assistant ($2) displayed none of the annotations I’d added in Preview, while SmileyDocs ($1) displayed only an added link. Meanwhile, none of the annotations I added in PDF Assistant showed up in Preview; I was unable to export my annotated document to iTunes. (E-mail worked.) Annotations added in LifeForms and e-mailed showed up correctly, but exporting to iTunes didn’t work. SmileyDocs doesn’t even claim to be able to save its annotations outside the app. I had better luck with three other apps. iAnnotate PDF ($10) showed all annotations added in Preview except for shapes and overlaid text. PDF Highlighter ($5) showed (and missed) the same annotations from Preview as iAnnotate. GoodReader for iPad was the only app to faithfully display every annotation from Preview I threw at it. Likewise, nearly all the annotations I added in GoodReader made it back to Preview. So only two apps—GoodReader and iAnnotate—support most annotations in both directions. The two differ in their ability to get PDFs on and off your iPad. GoodReader can accept documents from a dizzying array of sources; it will also open documents sent from other iOS apps. If you use iTunes, then you can effectively edit the document in place—no importing or exporting is required (although GoodReader does ask whether you want to annotate the original or a copy). Using other import-export routes, such as the cloud or e-mail, is multi-step: import the document, edit it, and then copy or move it to the destination.

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FEATURE iAnnotate can accept files via iTunes sync or other iOS apps, but doesn’t connect directly to cloud storage. You must export the edited version (which takes three taps) in order to retrieve it from iTunes; you can also e-mail the file. When exporting a file, you can choose to save it as an annotated PDF (the annotations can then be edited by another program), a “flattened” PDF (with all the annotations converted to plain text or graphics), or the original, un-annotated version. Both apps have their strong points, but I favor GoodReader for its fidelity in viewing annotations and its flexibility for getting documents in and out. My preferred workflow is to drag a PDF to my Dropbox or iDisk. Then, in GoodReader, I tap Connect to Servers > server name and tap the document name. Then I tap the document again in the My Documents list and add my annotations: tap and hold, and then tap Note, Highlight, Markup, or Draw from the popover that appears; additional controls appear as needed. When I’m done, I tap Connect to Servers > server name again, then Upload, select the document, and tap Upload 1 Item.

RICH TEXT FORMAT Many iOS apps can display RTF files, as far as I can tell not a single one lets you open an RTF file, edit it, and save the changed file in RTF. The Pages app can’t open RTF documents at all. And even apps that let you open, edit, and save files in Word (.doc) format—including Documents To Go, Office2, and Quickoffice Connect—open RTF documents as read-only. So if you want to do anything more than view RTF documents on your iPad, your best option is to save them in Word (.doc) format first.

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TAKE A NOTE

The best note-taking apps for the iPad

Let’s say you’ve got a bunch of meetings around town on today’s calendar. You’ll need to take notes, but because you’ll be running around all day, you’d rather not lug a laptop along. Could an iPad do the job? How good a note-taking device is it?

Let’s say you’ve got a bunch of work meetings around town on today’s calendar. You’ll need to take notes, but because you’ll be running around all day, you’d rather not lug around a laptop. Could an iPad do the job? How good a note-taking device is it? The answer in brief: With the right apps (and an external keyboard), you can definitely make it work. But that just raises another question: Assuming you want an iPad app for taking and editing notes (not a full-fledged word processor like Pages), which one is “right”? The answer depends on the kinds of notes you want to take.

Generalists There are dozens of text editors available for the iPad that let you write, store, and share plain-text files—notes that don’t demand fancy formatting, just the words. Some use iTunes to transfer files, most let you send files via e-mail, and some work with Dropbox. One of my favorites is Second Gear’s $5 Elements. Offering a minimal interface, Elements lets you read, edit, and store files using Dropbox. That means you can access notes on your Mac (or any other computer with Internet access) as well as from your iPad. Elements offers very basic formatting tools—you can change


fonts, font size, text color and text background, but that’s about it. You can e-mail files to others when you’ve finished, or access them from another device using your Dropbox account.

FEATURE

ELEMENTS This iPad text editor lets you adjust only the most basic formatting: the font and the size, color, and background of text.

There are other Dropbox-compatible text editors, such as Nebulous Notes ($1) and Droptext ($1); both offer access to files anywhere in your Dropbox folder and have features similar to Elements’. I prefer the Elements interface, but either of these other apps would work fine for occasional note-taking. Codality’s Simplenote (free with ads or $12/year) is also designed for taking and sharing simple text notes. But instead of storing them in Dropbox, the program connects with its own Website; you can still sync your notes and access them easily from multiple devices. It also supports tags and enhanced search, to make it easy to find a particular note. For editing on your Mac, you need program that’s compatible with the Simplenote site, such as Literature and Latte’s Scrivener 2.0 or Notational Velocity. Specialists A number of note-taking apps do more than just plain text, letting you collect other kinds of data (images, PDFs, even audio). The Evernote iPad app (free limited account or $45/year for premium account) syncs notes to the Evernote Website, iPhone, and a desktop

version. You can use it to jot down text, record voice notes, and collect photos, PDFs, and Web pages. Evernote’s powerful search features can even search text within images.

also sync with Scrivener, so users of that desktop application can easily work on their projects on the road. (Note: As we went to press, Circus Ponies had just released an iPad version of its NoteBook application, which has multimedia skills similar to Notebooks’.)

Rage Digital’s $3 HelviteNote is good for those who think visually as well as in words. You can use your finger (or a stylus like Ten One Designs’ $15 Pogo Sketch or Griffin’s $20 Stylus for iPad) to make and store simple drawings.

Finally, the $3 Audiotorium lets you not only create text notes but also voice recordings. Any note can contain text and/or audio, and you can record hours of audio within a single note. This is a great way to record a meeting and take notes at the same time; you can listen to the audio later and revise or augment your notes. Audiotorium is a pretty app with a chic, tabbed interface. It also syncs via Dropbox, and has its own built-in server so you can download documents from your iPad to any computer.

A Swiss army knife for notes, Alfons Schmid’s $9 Notebooks for iPad goes far beyond what many other apps offer. The app gives you an astounding number of options for organising and linking collections of documents, as well as importing and exporting both documents and text. It can be a great tool for collecting snippets or taking complex notes, and for working with a lot of different types of texts (for example, PDFs, Web pages, and Office documents). It can

AUDIOTORIUM NOTES In addition to preserving plain text, this iPad app can also record hours of audio, so you can compare your notes with the original event.

NOTEBOOKS Alfons Schmid’s app offers an array of tools for importing and organizing plain-text notes; it also works with PDFs, Web pages, and Office documents.

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WORKINGMAC

Tips, Tricks, and Tools to Make You and Your Mac More Productive

Protect the MacBook Air in Style BY SERENITY CALDWELL Apple’s 11-inch MacBook Air has certainly lightened owners’ bags—and wallets—since its debut last October. Weighing a mere 2.3 pounds and measuring only 0.68 inch at its thickest point, the diminutive laptop tends to swim in messenger bags and sleeves made for more corpulent computers. Thankfully, manufacturers have come up with a variety of options that protect your MacBook Air from life’s bumps and look good while doing it.

Keep It Protected Love your larger bag or backpack, but still want to keep your MacBook Air nice and cozy? San Francisco–based WaterField Designs has miniaturised its Laptop SleeveCase ($37 to $113, www.sfbags.com) line for Apple’s newest laptop. Encase your Air in a neoprene-and-nylon home, replete with all sorts of customisations. You can orient the sleeve horisontally or vertically, change the trim style, or add a flap or shoulder strap. Even without the extras, the SleeveCase remains one of the best ways to give your computer a protective and secure home.

Put It to Work

Strut Your Style

When you want to look professional without sacrificing functionality, WaterField Designs’ 11-inch Muzetto ($219; www.sfbags.com) offers the perfect compromise. Clad in tanned brown leather, the messenger features a coloured-clothand-neoprene interior for protecting not only your Air, but any other gadgets you happen to be carrying around. A smaller front pocket can hold an iPad, a sketchbook, or any number of smaller things, while the bag’s main pocket is perfect for the Air and a book or two. The Muzetto’s hardy leather strap is very comfortable on the shoulder.

It’s hard to find a bag that captures the eye and fulfills all the items on your feature wish list, but Stash Bags’ 11-inch Messenger ($115; www.stash-bags. com) does just that. Handcrafted from canvas and vintage fabrics that change with availability, it features a built-in laptop sleeve and five pockets (two in front, three more inside), in addition to its main compartment— enough for your Air and a few other goodies, too. The messenger’s impeccable construction makes it easy to tote around just about anywhere, and an adjustable strap allows you to easily convert it from laptop messenger bag to purse.

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Skintight Suede If you’re carrying an Air in the first place, chances are you’ll want a bag that’s as light as possible. For keeping your computer free of scratches and dents without adding paunch, look at WaterField Designs’ Suede Jacket Sleeve ($25; www.sfbags.com). The slim, black suede case provides a skin-tight fit for your Air, protecting it from other items in your bag without adding a lot of bulk or weight. Two loops on either side make slipping the case on easy. While not the hardiest case on the market, the Suede Jacket Sleeve makes up for it with style and lightness—much like the Air itself.


REVIEWS

Hardware and Software for All Your Business Needs

page and 17.4 cents for a four-colour page. Higheryield inks improve those numbers, but the printer’s overall toner prices are on the high side ($1599; Lexmark, www.lexmark. com)

Lexmark C792de The Lexmark C792de colour laser printer is one of the better workgroup printers we’ve tested to date. The 4.3-inch colour LCD touchscreen on the printer’s front control panel provides a flexible interface for advanced printer features such as print previews and shortcuts to online forms or marketing materials you use often. The control panel also sports a USB drive port and an alphanumeric keypad. The C792de was a top performer in our tests. When printing monochrome pages (mostly plain text, with a few simple grayscale graphics), the printer averaged a fast 19.4 pages per minute. A larger, more complex full-page photo emerged at a respectable 0.8 ppm. The machine’s print quality is among the best we’ve seen from a colour laser. This is a printer that could handle finer graphics work in addition to everyday pie charts and spot colour. Printing costs average 3.1 cents for a black-only

NEC MultiSync PA271W For people who require more control over on-screen color, who want a little

extra flexibility in terms of ergonomic adjustments, who are sensitive to the glare from glossy screens, or who use a Mac without a Mini DisplayPort connection, an Apple display just won’t cut it. NEC’s MultiSync PA271W is a 27-inch widescreen LCD with 2560-by-1440pixel resolution, 300 cd/ m2 brightness, a 1000:1 contrast ratio, multiple inputs, and a plethora of tools for setting (and maintaining) accurate color. It offers a height adjustment, swivels from left to right, tilts back and forth, and even rotates into portrait mode. The PA271W offers two DVI-D

ports, as well as a standard DisplayPort connector. You can use these connectors to attach two computers. The display can track and adjust its backlight output to ensure consistent brightness over time, and it sports a 14-bit 3D colourlookup table. NEC has worked hard to enable its CCFL backlights to get to a ready state in much less time—under one minute—than was previously necessary. For colour professionals looking for a large, glare-free, ergonomically adjustable display with tons of colour-tweaking tools and technology for achieving and maintaining accurate color over time, the NEC MultiSync PA2701W really delivers ($1399; www. necdisplay.com).

Xerox ColorQube 8570DN Xerox’s Color­Qube uses solid-ink supplies rather than liquid ink or powdered toner. Solid ink is both economical and environmentally friendly, since it lacks the plastic housing and other nonbiodegradable

components of toner or ink cartridges. Pages consisting primarily of text, but with a smattering of simple monochrome graphics, printed at 10.2 pages per minute on the Mac—an average speed. The quality was pretty good: Text was deep black, but with slightly jagged edges on thinner fonts. The unit’s photo-printing speed was impressive: A 22MB, full-page colour photo exited at a rate of about 2.1 ppm—twice as fast as we normally see. Unfortunately, photo and colour-graphics quality is noticeably grainier than the norm, and the palette looked slightly washed out. For business graphics, however, the quality is acceptable. The ColorQube 8570DN’s configuration includes a bottom-loading, 525-sheet cassette; a front-loading, 100-sheet multipurpose tray; and a top-loading, 200-sheet output tray. The unit we tested supported ethernet and USB. Its price is $200 higher than that of its ColorQube 8570N cousin, because it can print duplex (on both sides) automatically. In total, you can print a four-color page for about 12.5 cents ($899; www.office.xerox.com).

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PLAYLIST

Everything You Need to Know about iPods, iTunes, and Mac-based Entertainment

Audiobooks: From CD to iPod The best ways to import books-on-disc into iTunes BY K IRK M CELHEA RN Audiobook Settings Here are the ideal settings for ripping audiobooks.

Although you can download digital audiobooks from the iTunes Store or Audible (www .audible.com), you can also buy audiobooks on CD and add them to your iTunes library yourself. But if you do the latter, you need to rip them and then use special strategies to manage and enjoy the resulting files.

Ripping Audiobook CDs You won’t want to use the same import settings for books as you do for songs, because spokenword recordings don’t need the same audio quality as music. Settings  Before you rip the first CD, go to iTunes > Preferences in iTunes 10, click on the General tab, and then click on Import Settings. If you’re planning to listen to the

two types of settings. The first is the simplest: From the Setting pop-up menu, choose Spoken Podcast. This contains most of the settings I’ll mention later. However, since most audiobooks are recorded in stereo, these settings have iTunes rip in stereo, which generally isn’t necessary— ripping in mono will take up half the disk space as stereo.

Don’t use the same import settings for books and for songs—spokenword recordings don’t need the same audio quality as music. audiobook only on an iPod or in iTunes, choose AAC Encoder from the Import Using pop-up menu. (For other players or software, choose MP3 for better compatibility.) You can choose from

If you want to use moredetailed settings, choose Custom from the Setting pop-up menu. For Stereo Bit Rate, choose 64 kbps; voice needs only a small amount of data to sound good. Leave the sample

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rate at Auto. For Channels, most books sound fine in mono; I only use Stereo for “full-cast productions,” such as plays, where several performers are spread across the soundscape. To get the most out of your encoding, select the Optimise For Voice and Use High Efficiency Encoding (HE) checkboxes. The former limits the frequency ranges used to those needed for voices, and the latter provides better encoding at low bit rates. (Note that HE encoding doesn’t work on older iPods.) Then click on OK three times to save your changes. Ripping Most audiobooks range from about five to a dozen discs, and each disc is generally split up into many files. There are two

ways you can import your audiobooks, depending on whether you want one file per disc or a lot of files. The former makes it a bit easier to keep track of the files but the latter can make it easier to spot chapter and section breaks. If you want to join all the files on a disc, select all its files and then choose Advanced > Join CD Tracks. Whether or not you join tracks, the next thing you need to do is tag your files. Select all the tracks on the CD and then press Command-I; this brings up the Info window for multiple items. The easiest way to tag audiobooks is to put the author’s name in the Artist field and the book’s title in the Album field. Set the genre to Audiobook or Spoken Word; and if the disc number doesn’t show up,


add it—otherwise your files will be out of order after you’ve ripped all your discs. One important thing to do is to click the Options tab and then choose Yes from the Remember Position popup menu. Click OK to save this information—this will let your iPod or iTunes keep your place when you pause in the middle of a long file. Next, click on the Import CD button at the bottom right of the iTunes window. Do so for each disc and, when you’re done, look for the “album” in your library; it will contain all the files you have just imported, in the proper order.

Listening to Your Audiobooks Now that you’ve gotten your audiobooks into

iTunes, you have two options. If you’ve joined the tracks, you might as well put them into your Books library. Select all the tracks, press Command-I, and then click on the Options tab. From the Media Kind drop-down menu, choose Audiobook and then click on OK. You’ll then find the files in the Books library in iTunes, and, on your iOS device, under the Audiobooks menu. But you can also use a smart playlist to listen to an audiobook; this is the best way to listen if you have lots of files and haven’t joined the tracks of each disc, but it also works fine with joined tracks. Instead of choosing the book from the Books library, you’ll find it in the Playlists section both in iTunes and

on your iOS device when you’re done. First, you need to set some options for these files. Select them all, press Command-I, and then click the Options tab. Enable both Remember Position and Skip When Shuffling. The first option means that whenever you stop listening, iTunes or your iOS device will remember where you stopped. The second prevents these files from popping up when you shuffle songs on an iOS device, or with iTunes DJ in iTunes. (When you set the files to the Audiobooks media kind, these two options are set automatically.) Now, create a smart playlist, and enter the author’s name in the field after Artist Contains. Then click on the plus-sign (+)

button to the right of the Artist field, choose Album from the first pop-up menu of the new line that displays, and enter the name of the book in this field. Click on the plus-sign button again, and choose Plays Is 0. Make sure the Live Updating box is checked, and then click on OK. The reason for the Plays line is that after you listen to a file, its count will increase to 1, and it’ll be removed from the smart playlist. This will continue until you get to the end of the book. Finally, name the playlist with the name of the book. If you have a very long book and don’t want to sync all of its files, you can limit the number of files the playlist contains from the Limit To option in your smart playlist: Choose a number of files or hours, and make sure you choose to have them selected by album so they stay in the right order. With these techniques, you can make listening to audiobooks on your iPod as easy as listening to music.

EmiratesMac.com EmiratesMac Apple Users Group Discounts - Support - Debate - News How to join: Contact: Paul Castle, Community Evangelist, paul@emiratesmac.com, @daddybird, +971-55-580 1829

November | www.macworldme.net | 31 Smart Playlists With smart playlists, you can organize your2010 audiobooks and control


PLAY LIST

REVIEWS

Home Entertainment Hardware, Software, and Accessories

HARDWARE

D-Link Boxee Box

The Boxee Box set-top box promises to be a great addition to a connected home—once it implements all of its premium service offerings and fixes the bugs. The petite, two-sided remote is nice (although a backlight would have been a welcome touch for the keyboard side), and the interface is one of the best we’ve seen. Don’t expect any access to popular TV though, with a Boxee Box in the region, that’s only for US viewers. ($199; www.boxee.tv)

Moshi The proper fit is essential to achieving optimum sound, and when the buds completely block out external sounds. The main problem with this is that if I want to go for a looser fit (which would allow ambient noise) the sound quality would was focused on the higher range. So you are stuck with the snug fitting bud that properly sits in your ear. The MoonRock has a mic with a single small button, which is compatible with iPhone. ($40, moshimonde.com)

Vizio VMB070 7-Inch LED LCD Portable TV LG Electronics BX580

The LG BX580 Blu-ray player does an excellent job of turning the bits on a DVD or Blu-ray disc into stunning images. Its Internet content and multimedia capabilities are among the best. And for a 3D Blu-ray player, the $230 estimated street price is remarkably reasonable. Above all else, the BX580’s excellent image quality makes this player a strong contender ($349; www.lg.com)

Moshi Audio MoonRock

These good-looking earphones come in a rubber case that holds it all together. When in place, the earphones complete the case’s smooth shape. You get 3 pairs of in-ear buds.

Whether you’re tailgating or you just live in a really small apartment, you might have a reason to want a 7-inch TV, and the Vizio VMB070 stands out. Overall, it’s a solid portable TV with good image quality and battery life, but poor photo support and the display’s glare and light-reflection problems mean that it isn’t ideal for people who want a full-featured digital photo frame or a dedicated outdoor TV ($160; www. vizio.com)

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SOFTWARE

BIAS SoundSaver

SoundSaver is a handy tool that walks you step by step through the process of capturing and digitizing your old LPs and tapes. The workflow is logical, and the ability to clean up tracks as one part of the process is welcome. Just as welcome is the ability to automatically tag tracks. While many people will never have the need to encode a 78-rpm record, it’s nice that BIAS included that as an option, just in case. It’d be even nicer if the autodefine feature were more accurate. But we’ve yet to find a perfect solution in a product in this price range ($50; biasinc.com)


HOT STUFF

PLAY LIST What We’re Raving about This Month

WebTunes

Music fans who want to marry their song libraries to the power of the Web have a new way to potentially make that union a reality: WebTunes, a program that lets you play your iTunes library through a browser. Once set up, it automatically connects to your default browser, which in turn opens iTunes and displays the artists and albums in your library—not in a grid or list, like Apple’s program, but in a “cloud” formation that displays your most-played music most prominently. WebTunes also displays a Wikipedia entry for the artist you’re hearing, and offers links to the artist and music through last.fm, AllMusic, Google, and the iTunes Store (www.webtunes.info).

New Potato Technologies TuneLink Auto Accessory maker New Potato Technologies has introduced the TuneLink Auto, a $100 gizmo for iOS devices that lets you stream audio to your car stereo. The TuneLink Auto plugs into your car’s accessory jack and interfaces with your iOS device via Bluetooth. The front of the device sports a USB port that lets you keep your device charged while you use it and a 3.5mm line-level audio output jack to transmit audio directly to your car’s auxiliary audio input. If your car’s stereo doesn’t have an aux-in jack, don’t worry: The TuneLink also has a built-in FM transmitter. You control the TuneLink Auto with a free app that lets you set the channel of the FM transmitter as well as adjust your Bluetooth settings. When a call comes in, the app automatically switches to your existing Bluetooth or wired headset, and then switches back. (www.newpotato tech.com).

iTunes Store Now Offers 90-Second Song Previews Thirty seconds is often not enough to really get a sense of whether a song is any good. Apple has tried to rectify that problem by recently updating the iTunes Store with 90-second previews for songs that are longer than two and a half minutes. Right now, the 90-second previews are available only in the U.S. version of the store, where they are available on the desktop and on iOS devices—though not yet for all songs that would seemingly qualify.

mSpot Music If a big fluffy cloud of bits seems like the ideal place to store your media, then mSpot might be right for you. Previously available for Android devices, mSpot has now launched an iOS client. You can upload your music to mSpot’s servers, either from your iTunes library or from folders that you select. You get 2GB of free space, or 40GB for $4 a month. Once uploaded, your music is available on mSpot’s server, waiting for you to listen to it via the mSpot Music app on your iOS device (www.mspot.com).

EmiratesMac.com EmiratesMac Apple Users Group Discounts - Support - Debate - News How to join: Contact: Paul Castle, Community Evangelist, paul@emiratesmac.com, @daddybird, +971-55-580 1829

February 2011 | www.macworldme.net | 33


DIGITALPHOTO

Techniques and Gear for Shooting, Editing, and Managing Great Photos

Sony Alpha SLT-A55 BY BEN LONG The first step in taking a photo is to point the camera in the right direction. But to know what that right direction is, you need a viewfinder. The problem with designing a viewfinder is that the lens on the camera is located in front of the image sensor, so it’s difficult to get your eye directly behind the lens. SLRs get around this problem by using a flip-up mirror to bounce light into the optical viewfinder. Most digital cameras, though, simply use the LCD screen on the back of the camera to show the current framing. The new

Sony Alpha SLT-A55 is a new interchangable lens camera that looks a lot like a traditional SLR. But, like a lot of its competitors, it lets you switch between the rear LCD screen and a small electronic viewfinder located where the viewfinder on an SLR would be. The difference between the A55 and any camera that’s come before, is that Sony has placed a translucent mirror in front of the image sensor. It doesn’t move, like the mirror in an SLR, and because it’s mostly transparent, the bulk of the light coming through the lens passes on to the sensor.

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A tiny bit, though, gets bounced upward to the camera’s autofocus sensors. The practical upshot of this is that the camera can do what few SLRs can: continuously autofocus in Live View mode. When shooting video, this makes for a camera that handles like a point-and-shoot, but that offers the flexibility and superior image quality of an SLR.

Camera design The A55 is a about the same size as competing mid-range digital SLRs. Small and lightweight, the camera is sturdily constructed, and offers a

secure grip and welldesigned interface. A big rear-mounted LCD screen flips out from the back of the camera. You can spin it around to fit it flush with the camera’s back, or tilt it up or down. It’s hinged at the bottom, rather than the side, but it still provides all the range of motion you need for above-the-head or waist-level shooting. For self-portraits, the only way to face the screen forward is to tilt it so that it sticks straight down, below the camera. If you mount the camera on a tripod, you may not be able to see the screen when it’s sticking straight down. A proximity detector automatically switches from the rear LCD to the eye-level electronic viewfinder when you raise the camera to your eye, and the A55’s electronic viewfinder is very good, offering a big, bright, clear view of your scene. Sony has added a really cool real-time level inside the viewfinder. As the camera tilts, a virtual horizon line shows you whether you’re level or not. Handy and non-obtrusive, the level doesn’t get in the way of the rest of the status information. All that said, I’m not a fan of electronic viewfinders, simply because their dynamic range is limited by the camera’s sensor. So, if you


DIGITAL PHOTO Video

want to be able to see details in both bright highlights and deep shadows when you’re composing, you’ll be out of luck. This is an important consideration when weighing this camera against a traditional SLR. As with other Sony cameras, the A55 includes a stabilized sensor, which means that any of Sony’s excellent lenses will deliver stabilised imagery. The A55 is compatible with Sony’s lenses, Minolta lenses, and Konica Minolta AF lenses. There’s an incamera pop-up flash, as well as a iISO hot shoe mount if you’d like to use an external flash. As with other Sony DSLRs, the proprietary hot shoe mount works with Sony and Minolta products, but an adapter can be purchased separately if you’d like to turn it into a standard mount to use it with Nikon, Canon, Pentax, or Olympus accessories.

Special features Because the A55 doesn’t have to move a mirror around, Sony has been able to get a remarkable 10 frame-persecond burst rate out of the camera. It is continuously autofocusing in this mode, so fast moving subjects stay sharp. In addition to giving you a tremendous advantage when shooting sports, animals, and other fast-moving subjects, the A55’s burst speed allows some other handy features. The camera’s Sweep Panorama feature allows you to shoot stitched panoramic images by simply holding down the shutter button while panning across a scene. The camera

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automatically captures overlapping images and stitches them together, and the results are very good. No trip to Photoshop or other image editor is needed. The A55 also offers a multi-frame noise reduction feature. If you’re in low light, and are worried about your images being too noisy, this feature allows you to shoot a burst of images. The camera then combines them to create a low-noise result. Because of the camera’s high burst rate, you can rattle off a few shots extremely quickly, giving you a better chance of shooting images in close registration. While ten frames per second may not be that big a deal to photographers used to high-end, pro-level cameras, to get such speed at this price point is a real breakthrough for those who want speedy shooting.

Settings and controls The A55 offers a full complement of auto and manual modes. Full auto, program, priority and manual modes are all accessible from the topmounted mode dial, and controlling exposure parameters is easy and intuitive. The A55 does very well in low light, up to around ISO 6400. After that, things get pretty noisy, but Sony has included their unique multishot noise reduction feature, which shoots multiple images, and then combines them to reduce noise. Surprisingly, the A55 lacks any type of Program Shift feature, for cycling through reciprocal exposures in Program mode. This is a great way to maintain some manual control while shooting in Program, and is sorely missed on the A55.

The A55 shoots full 1080p AVCHD video, and shooting video with this camera is much easier than with any digital SLR. Because the camera can continuously autofocus while shooting video, you don’t need to worry about how you or your subject moves while rolling video. The camera’s quick autofocus mechanism will keep your scene in focus, even during difficult camera movements. Sony has wisely included an external mic jack, since handling the camera while shooting video generates lots of hand-holding noise.

Image and video tests The A55 received impressively high ratings in our subjective image and video tests. We tested it alongside the Sony A580 and Nikon D3100 DSLRs. The A55’s scores were extremely close to the A580, and it did slightly better than the D3100. It received word scores of Very Good for exposure, color, and sharpness, but only a Good for distortion. The video quality on the A55 was one of the best we’ve seen on an interchangable lens camera in the past year, especially in bright light, earning a word score of Superior. Watch the sample clips from our subjective video tests (for both bright light and low light) below. Select 1080p in the drop-down menu in the lower-right corner of each player to see each clip at maximum resolution.

Macworld Middle East’s buying advice The A55 holds its own against its competition thanks to its nice feature set and very good image quality. What sets it apart is its small side, ability to continuously autofocus while shooting video, and fast continuous shooting mode. If portability, video capability and burst shooting are serious concerns for you, then you’ll want to give this camera a very close look. If regular still images are your primary concern, then you’ll need to pay close attention to the electronic viewfinder, and try to determine if you are comfortable with its limitations.


Best Point-and-Shoots for Video

DIGITAL PHOTO

These five multitasking compact point-and-shoot cameras all shoot great 720p video

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 Video quality on the DMC-LX5 is excellent when you use the camera’s automated settings in bright light and manual settings in low light. The on-board mic captures crisp audio. $500; cpinow.cc/panasoniclx5

Canon PowerShot SX210 IS The SX210 IS has some of the best video quality among the current crop of pocket megazoom cameras. But its audio is a weak spot, and the camera has no mic port. $350; cpinow.cc/canonsx210

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX75 This camera really shines in video mode, especially in bright light. The FX75 shoots bright video with good colours. In low light, motion is smooth but not as well-defined. $300; cpinow.cc/panasonicfx75

Kodak EasyShare M580 Social networking fans will enjoy the M580, which shoots excellent video and allows you to upload directly to sites like YouTube when you sync to a computer. $170; cpinow.cc/kodakm580

Canon PowerShot S95 A fantastic and petite still camera, the S95 doesn’t disappoint in the video department. Video colours are bold, and the camera has a built-in stereo mic. $400; Canon; cpinow.cc/canons95

Three Mac photo apps that imitate film

High-end photo editing applications like Aperture and Lightroom often use plug-ins to replicate a film look. This is a serious solution that comes with a serious price. Casual photographers looking for a fun and inexpensive way to give photos a retro film look can try these three simple applications instead.

CameraBag To use Camerabag, simply drag an image to the window that opens when the app is launched. Your photo appears in the center of the window with a row of thumbnails below. Each thumbnail shows a preview of the filter that can be applied to the image. With reprocessing, and multi-filter layering, using CameraBag makes it exciting turn your modern photos into retro images. (nervecenter.com; $19)

Toycamera AnalogColor Pentacom’s Toycamera AnalogColor focuses on toy camera photography’s unique characteristics— light leaks, vignetting, and 120mm medium format and instant film—and allows you to manipulate your digital photos to imitate these looks. (pentacom.jp; $10)

Poladroid If you love the look of old Polaroid instant photos, and want a simple way to apply that signature look and feel to your work without dropping a dime, Poladroid is just what you need. (poladroid.net; free )

February 2011 | www.macworldme.net | 37


CREATE

Using the Web for Video, Graphics, Web Publishing, and Other Creative Pursuits

Roll Your Own iPhone Skins BY ADAM BERENSTAIN

With its flat glass front and back, the iPhone 4 isn’t just a gorgeous piece of hard­ware, it’s also a canvas for your creativity. Thanks to the design tools at Unique Skins (www.uniqueskins.com), you can create a full-colour custom iPhone 4 skin.

Front For the front, consider a pattern or a landscape that has some detail around the edges, since the phone screen will severely cut off faces. For the back, almost any photo will suffice. In the Finder, select File > New Folder. Choose your images in iPhoto (or elsewhere on your Mac), and then drag them into your new Finder folder. From there, they will be uploaded to the Unique Skins Website, where you can resize them to fit your iPhone.

Back Go to the Devices section on the Unique Skins Website, and choose Cell Phones. On the resulting page, click the Apple logo, and from there choose Custom Apple iPhone 4 Skin. You can pick a two-piece adhesive vinyl skin (one piece for the front and one for the back). Options include a basic skin for $7, a scratch-resistant skin for $20, and a gel skin with a raised surface for $30. I chose the basic skin. Pick a style, and click the Design Now button. This launches the design workspace in a new window. There you can upload images, resize and rotate them, layer one picture over another, and add text in various colours and fonts. A sidebar also offers an extensive library of stock images. Despite the workspace’s non-Mac interface, it’s easy to get started thanks to intuitive tools and optional help balloons. Templates showing everything 38 | www.macworldme.net | February 2011

Skin Your Phone Unique Skins’ on-screen help and handy iPhone template take the guesswork out of designing skins.

from the iPhone 4’s outer edges to the location of its camera lens and flash let you see how your final design will appear on the device. To save a work in progress, click Save For Later and create a Unique Skins account with your e-mail address and a password. You can finish your work on any computer that has Web access. Of course, the account is also required at checkout when you submit a finished skin for processing. Your design is then printed on a skin and shipped to your door, ready to peel and apply. I chose standard shipping and received my skin in less than a week. Priority and express shipping are also available.

respective features on the iPhone 4 is a little tricky, so try to apply the back skin first: With only two holes, it’s much simpler than the front skin. If you make a mistake, you can remove and reapply both skins without much fuss. Once you’ve correctly positioned the skin around your phone’s landmarks, slowly smooth the rest of it into place. It should be a perfect fit, but you can make adjustments as you go. Because skins leave no residue behind when removed, it’s easy to experiment with different designs— just peel off the current skin and apply a new one.

Apply Skin

While I tried Unique Skins on the latest iPhone, you can use this service to skin almost any iPhone model. Unique Skins also lets you design decorative covers for other electronic devices, from the MacBook Air to the Nintendo Wii.

First, clean both sides of the iPhone with a lint-free cloth to ensure good contact between the glass and your skin’s adhesive. Next, remove the precut sections of the skin covering the Home button, camera, flash, and sensors. Aligning these holes with their

Huge Variety


Build Greeting Cards with Photo Blocks

Designing your own greeting cards lets you send fun, creative, and personal messages to friends and family. Armed with your Mac and a digital camera, you have endless possibilities! Start with a 5-by-7-inch document. Then, using Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, or another image editor, set the resolution to 250 pixels per inch. Keep text and important parts of the message a quarter-inch away from the edge to avoid unintentional cropping.

For this block-style card (pictured), take six photos using the macro (close-up) setting on your camera. These can be decorative items, flowers, people, or pets. In your photo editor, add the photos to your document via copy and paste (or by selecting File > Place in Photoshop), and then arrange them side-by-side in two rows of three. Make sure your images are properly cropped and sized before you arrange them. If your program has guides, use them to help with alignment. Add a short text greeting atop the photos and center it vertically and horizontally. Use a script typeface in a large point size with a drop shadow to increase readability. If you’re printing at home, choose a borderless setting so that your printer knows to print all the way to the paper’s edge.

HARDWARE

Zoom H1 Handy Recorder

The Zoom H1 is for podcasters, broadcasters, reporters, and musicians who want a reasonably priced, goodquality handheld recorder. The unit includes up to 24-bit/96kHz WAV and 320 kbps MP3 recording, built-in X/Y mic placement for stereo, external-mic/line-in input, headphone/line-out output, up to 32GB of storage on microSDHC cards, reasonably intuitive controls, power from a single AA battery, and a compact design. With its plastic case, it should be handled with care. The Auto Level feature needs work, but you can easily switch it off and manually set levels. Do so, and you can record some impressive-sounding audio. ($160; www.samsontech.com)

Leave the Ken Burns Effect on the Cutting Room Floor Every imported photo in Apple’s iMovie mobile app gets the Ken Burns treatment—an effect where the virtual camera moves across a photo and slowly zooms in or out. But you may not always desire that effect; having a button to turn it off would be helpful, but such a thing doesn’t (yet) exist. But you can achieve the same thing by setting the Start and End stages so that they have the same position and zoom level. 1. Double-tap an imported photo to bring up the Ken Burns controls. 2. Tap the Start button to position the playhead at the

beginning of the photo clip. play the movie to make sure the 3. With two fingers, pinch photo doesn’t move. inward until the photo is smaller than iMovie’s preview area, and then release. The image will snap to fit the frame. 4. Drag up or down with one finger so that the top or bottom border is visible, and then release to again snap the image to fit. 5. Tap the End button and repeat Switch It Off The Ken Burns Effect controls let steps 3 and 4. you set the start and end points of the clip, but 6. Tap Done, and don’t offer an easy way to remove the effect.

February 2011 | www.macworldme.net | 39


CREATE

Handwriting: A Font of Your Own

Long a Mac tradition, online font resources now give you any script you want

BY JAY NELSON

I

don’t particularly like my hand­ writing—neither did my thirdgrade teacher. Maybe that’s why I’m attracted to professional fonts that look like handwriting. Or maybe it’s because they’re just plain awesome. Fonts that resemble handwriting are as old as the Macintosh itself—the first Macs included Susan Kare’s 72-dpi bitmap font Los Angeles, and Apple includes the font Lucida Handwriting in Mac OS X. Although Lucida Handwriting doesn’t look like anyone’s handwriting that I know of, the characters do connect nicely. If you want a font that looks like your own handwriting, you can get that for a very reasonable price—often less than $10—online. For example, at YourFonts (www. yourfonts.com) and Fontifier (www. fontifier.com), you can simply download and print a template, fill in the boxes with your handwritten letters, then scan and upload the template. The Website lets you tweak any letters that don’t look right, and then it generates a font for you. You can even include your signature as one of the characters. If you want more control and are willing to spend $30, have a look at FontLab’s SigMaker, which lets you convert your handwritten letters or any other line art into a font, or add new glyphs to an existing font. But what if, like me, you don’t actually like your handwriting? The Web is full of free fonts that are based on someone else’s handwriting. I’ve found several that I like and I use them as if they were my own. Have a look at the handwriting fonts at Free Fonts (www. free-fonts.com), FontSpace (www. fontspace.com), and Font Garden (www.fontgarden.com), for example. For more choices, use Google to search for “free handwriting fonts.” To get a more professionally produced handwriting font, look to Chank

Expert Swashes Using P22’s Zaner Pro, anyone can match the penmanship of America’s greatest penmen.

Diesel’s Go Font Yourself, volumes 1 and 2. Each collection contains several dozen fonts based on the handwriting of real people. You can even impersonate a famous artist. The P22 type foundry (www. p22.com) has professionally digitized the handwriting of several prominent artists, including Cézanne, Gaugin, van Gogh, Frank Lloyd Wright, and even Leonardo da Vinci. Some fonts make use of the OpenType font format’s ability to recognize surrounding letters and substitute different letter shapes (glyphs) based on context. The result is text that looks more natural because different instances of each letter don’t look the same. A few good examples are Canada Type’s Martie Pro (available from several resellers), MadType’s Casino Hand and P22’s remarkable Brass Script Pro. If your tastes tend toward the handwriting styles you’ve seen in fancy greeting cards, have a look at Rob Leuschke’s TypeSetIt collection. He was formerly a typographer for Hallmark, and has imbued his font designs with the timeless grace he developed while working on that company’s

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card designs. For possibly the best examples of professional penmanship, see P22’s Zaner Pro, an OpenType font based on the work of one of the most influential penmen in American history—Charles Paxton Zaner. One unique feature of this font is that you can apply swashes to the end of a word by typing the tilde character (~). If you keep pressing the tilde key, you’ll cycle through a range of swashes. If you need some typographic inspiration, download P22’s PDF full of examples of the font’s use. I believe that every person has at least one good font design inside them. Perhaps the abundance of handwriting fonts is evidence of this belief. Or not. Regardless, it can be hugely entertaining to flip through a collection of handwritten fonts and imagine what kind of person was responsible for each one. Plus, you might find one that shows people a better version of you.


February 2011 | www.macworldme.net | 41


HELP DESK

Answering Your Questions and Sharing Your Tips about Getting the Most From Your Mac

Mac 911 Solutions to your most vexing Mac problems BY CHRISTOPHER BREEN

End iPod Autoplay

Q

: I have a Mac and also a PC (running Windows 7), and while I like the Mac better, the one thing the two computers have in common is that they automatically do things I’d prefer them not to do when I plug in my iPod touch. The PC shows the AutoPlay window, and the Mac launches iPhoto. Is there a way to stop this behavior? : My mother didn’t raise me to offer Windows advice, but I’ll make an exception in this case because we’re talking about an Apple device. As you’ve noted, when you jack your iPod into your PC, the AutoPlay window appears. At the bottom of that window is a link that reads, View More AutoPlay Options In Control Panel. Click that link. In the resulting AutoPlay control panel window, you’ll see a long list of choices. Scroll down the list, and you should see your iPod touch at the bottom (if you don’t, unplug it from your PC and plug it back in). From the popup menu next to the iPod touch listing, choose Take No Action and click the window’s Save button. From this point forward, you shouldn’t see the AutoPlay window when you plug in your iPod. As for iPhoto on the Mac, you have a couple of options. The first is to open iPhoto’s Preferences, select General, and, from the Connecting Camera Opens pop-up menu, choose No Application (see “No Cameras, Please”). iPhoto considers your iPod touch to be a camera, and that’s why it launches. The problem with

A

No Cameras, Please Using an iPhoto preference, you can keep all your iOS devices and cameras from launching iPhoto.

choosing this option is that you’ve now disabled the setting to open iPhoto when you attach any camera—your point-and-shoot or DSLR, for example. To work around this limitation, plug in your iPod and launch Image Capture (in /Applications). Select the iPod in Image Capture’s Devices list, and at the bottom of this list choose No Application from the Connecting This iPod Opens pop-up menu. This allows you to configure iPhoto’s behavior for individual “cameras” such as your iPod. Now, when you plug in

your iPod, iPhoto butts out. But when you plug in your real camera, iPhoto leaps to the fore.

Export and Import Outlook 2011 Messages

Q

: I’m using Microsoft Outlook 2011 on my laptop and iMac. I’d like to move a week’s worth of messages from one to the other, but there doesn’t seem to be any easy way. What’s the secret?

February 2011 | www.macworldme.net | 43


HELP DESK

MAC 911 Adjusting Displays Use the Displays system preference to adjust the resolution settings of your Mac on the iMac’s display.

A

: With Entourage you could drag a folder with a week’s worth of messages to the desktop to turn it into an MBOX file—a file format supported by just about every e-mail client on Earth save, regrettably, Outlook 2011. Instead, when you choose Outlook’s File > Export command, you’re offered the single option to export mail in the Outlook For Mac Data File (.olm) format. And—just as regrettably—you have to export all your mail. There’s no option that will let you export a range of mail or a single mailbox. The solution is to create an empty folder on the desktop for the messages you want to export. Select those messages in Outlook and drag them to this folder. Each message appears as a .eml file. Now transfer this folder full of messages to your other Mac. If you double-click on one of these .eml files, Apple’s Mail will likely open to a preview of the message. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to drag the files into Outlook in this condition. Reader Kyle DeMilo explains why: You must first change the files’ application association. You do this by selecting one of the exported .eml files, pressing 1-I to produce the file’s Info window, choosing Microsoft Outlook from the Open With pop-up menu in the Info window, and finally clicking the Change All button. You can now select all of these messages and drag them into Outlook, where they’ll appear, complete with any attachments.

Delete a Boot Camp Partition

Q

: I moved from a Windows PC to an iMac three years ago. For the transition I installed Boot Camp and set up 250GB of my drive for Windows. I no longer need the Windows partition. How do I delete it? : Dispatching a Boot Camp partition is quite easy. Make sure that no user accounts other than your regular administrator account are logged on. Also, if you want any of the data that’s stored on the Boot Camp partition, now’s the time to

A

44 | www.macworldme.net | February 2011

back it up. (Time Machine doesn’t back up Boot Camp partitions.) Launch Boot Camp Assistant (found in /Applications/Utilities), click the Continue button in the first screen, select the Create Or Remove A Windows Partition option in the next screen, click Continue again, select the drive that has your Boot Camp partition, enable the Restore Disk To A Single Mac OS Partition option, and click Continue. You’ll be prompted for your administrator username and password. Click OK and Boot Camp Assistant will restore the disk to a single Mac OS partition.

Use an iMac as a Second Monitor

Q

: My wife is running an old iMac G5, and we’d like to move her to a MacBook Air. She sees my setup with a laptop and second monitor and wants to know if she can use her iMac as a second monitor. : In a way, yes, but you don’t do this by simply stringing a video cable between the two Macs. Rather, you use Patrick Stein’s $30 ScreenRecycler (www.screenrecycler.com), a VNC (Virtual Network Computing) tool that uses your network to place the image of one Mac’s display on the other’s display. With the Macs on the same network, install ScreenRecycler on the MacBook Air (the Mac you want to project to the other Mac). After installing the required driver and restarting the MacBook Air, launch ScreenRecycler. On the iMac (the Mac

A

you’ll use as the display), launch a VNC client (a trial copy of Stein’s $40 JollyFastVNC is included with Screen­ Recycler). The two Macs should automatically connect over Bonjour. Open the MacBook Air’s Displays system preference. You should see two monitors represented—the MacBook Air’s display and the Screen­Recycler display (which appears within the VNC client window on the iMac). You can now arrange the position of these displays by dragging the second one into the proper position (to the right of the main display if the iMac sits to the right of the MacBook Air, for example). It’s likely that you’ll also have to adjust the resolution of the ScreenRecycler display. You do this within the Scr.Recycler1 window that appears on the MacBook Air’s screen. Performance isn’t great, as there’s a lag between one computer and another—how brutal a lag depends on your network speed. The lag will produce artifacts on the iMac’s display when you move objects on its screen. For this reason, I’d maintain the MacBook Air’s screen for objects that move a lot—say, windows that display movies or that you use for photo editing. The iMac can work as a place to throw program palettes or documents you want to read rather than extensively work with. The alternative, of course, is to purchase an inexpensive second monitor. You’ll be happier with the results.

AirPort and the Stubborn


MAC 911 HELP DESK

Cable Modem

Q

: I bought my parents an AirPort Extreme base station, because the cheap wireless router they use doesn’t broadcast a signal strong enough to reach the back bedroom. I’ve connected it to their cable modem, run AirPort Utility on my MacBook, and asked it to configure the base station for a DHCP connection, but it always comes up with a self-assigned IP address. When I reconnect the old wireless router, it works perfectly. What am I doing wrong? : You have to reset the cable modem. How you go about it depends on the modem. In some cases you can simply unplug it, let

A

it sit for a few minutes, plug its output into the base station’s WAN port, power on the modem, power on the base station, and then run AirPort Utility. With luck, the base station will pick up a usable IP address and be on its way. However, some cable modems are reluctant to reset themselves this easily. They carry a backup battery that maintains the modem’s settings even when it’s unplugged. If your parents’ cable modem has such a battery, there’s a more-than-reasonable chance it also has a small reset button on the back. Flip it around and look for that button. If and when you find it, give it a firm push (you’ll probably need a paper clip or pen-point, as

these buttons are often recessed). This should allow the base station to pull in a working address. If not, cable providers are often capable of resetting modems from their end. If nothing else works, call the provider’s tech support line and ask that they reset the modem.

MAC 101

When Permissions Won’t Be Repaired

Q: 

I have a Mac Pro running version 10.6.5 of Snow Leopard. When I repair permissions, about a dozen items are listed as repaired. But if I repeat the process, either immediately or a day later, the same list is repaired all over again. What gives?

A: 

I can guess with some confidence that the messages you see repeated time and again contain the word Java. You might also see this: Warning: SUID file “System/Library/CoreServices/

RemoteManagement/ARDAgent.app/Contents/ MacOS/ARDAgent” has been modified and will not be repaired. Apple tells us “don’t sweat it” in its aptly titled KnowledgeBase article “Mac OS X: Disk Utility’s Repair Disk Permissions Messages That You Can Safely Ignore” (support.apple.com/kb/ts1448). After listing scads of these messages, Apple’s article ends with this: “You can safely ignore these messages. You can also usually ignore any ‘ACL found but not expected . . .’ message. These messages can occur if you change permissions on a file or directory. These messages are accurate but are generally not a cause for concern.”

Have you got a problem?

HELP DESK

Email your question to mac911@ macworldme.net or connect with us on Twitter at twitter.com/macworldme. You can also check out the forums at www.emiratesmac.com. EmiratesMac is an Apple Users Group based in Dubai.

February 2011 | www.macworldme.net | 45


MAC COMPATIBLE

Ignore the Man in Front of the Curtain

Steve Jobs in 2002

Apple’s March 2nd event brought a number of eagerly anticipated announcements, but the main surprise by far was the presence of Steve Jobs himself. Having once again put himself on medical leave, Steve’s presence at the event couldn’t be assumed, and there was considerable approval when he appeared on stage as the things kicked off. His presence on stage, assuming his usual role as emcee and ringmaster of an Apple presentation seemed to give many the assurance that all was right in Apple’s world. When his latest medical leave was announced the usual questions arose among the industry commentators as to whether Apple could survive without its charismatic chief. Jobs has

long been almost solely credited for Apple’s success over the last decade; without him, the question is asked, can the company possibly survive? I think that it certainly can, because even though a lot of attention is given to Steve himself, there’s a lot more to what makes Apple the company that it is. Certainly, Steve deserves a great deal of credit for what Apple has achieved since his return. During his tenure the company has gone from a struggling technology also-ran to being an industry leading force in computing, consumer tech and digital entertainment. But while his leadership and salesmanship have been significant forces in the transformation, that is not nearly the entire story of Apple’s rise. Much as with the Wizard of Oz, the real story is what’s happening “behind the curtain”. Behind Steve there are two main groups that make Apple’s success possible. First and foremost there are the many designers and programmers that create all those industry leading products. Steve is may be a showman, perhaps even a “visionary”, but he’s no engineer. Fortunately Apple has a lot of great engineers, many of the best in the business. They’re ones who come up with many of the new ideas, designs and prototypes that become the devices and programs we love, and bring to life the concepts and directives passed down to them by Steve and his fellow executives. Apple has long maintained a culture that lets these people shine, and continuing to

do so will help them stay at the head of the industry. Secondly, it’s important to note that Steve doesn’t helm the ship that is Apple alone. He’s part a Board of Directors that is very forward thinking. The fact that they let a guy whose primary attire is blue jeans and a black turtleneck run the company is an indicator that they “think different”. They along with the rest of Apple’s executives are at least as important as Steve is in establishing the vision and focus for the company. Steve can have great ideas- or recognize great ideas from elsewherebut it takes a consensus of this group being of the same mind and foresight to make it happen. So while Mr. Jobs role in the company has been highly influential, even critical to Apple’s success, it’s important to remember that Apple is a very large team, and could not have attained what it has without multiple talented and visionary people. As indication of this, It is worth noting at the end of the iPad 2 event, Steve himself took a moment to bring attention to and thank that team; the engineers, the executives and the many others that brought the products revealed from concept to market. It is certainly hoped that Steve’s health improves, and that he can be actively involved in captaining the Apple team for many years to come. But as he himself has pointed out, it’s not at all a one man act.

Paul Castle is Community Evangelist for the Emirates Macintosh User Group. <www.emiratesmac.com> As @DaddyBird on Twitter, he tweets entirely too much about tea, cats, Macs and Bollywood, as well as being a serial compulsive tweetup organiser.

46 | www.macworldme.net | February 2011


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Macworld Middle East March 2011  

This is the March 2011 issue of Macworld Middle East produced by CPI in Dubai

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